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The pounding on the door awoke Rose from her reverie. 

She stumbled to the door and peered through the peephole. A FedEx delivery? At 9:30 Saturday morning, who does that?

“Hold your ID up to the peephole.”

She viewed Diego Gonzales’s photo and credentials and wrapped her robe tightly before she unlocked and opened the door. 

“A package?”

“Rose Alderman, Apartment 103, right?”


“Sign here, and it’s all yours.”

“What is it?”

“I deliver the packages; I don’t open them, Ma’am.”

She signed for the package, closed and locked the door. 

Rose ripped the opening tab and pulled out an envelope addressed to her, then looked into the mailer and saw a ring. 

The ring was a beauty. An old-school setting held a massive diamond surrounded by several baguette diamonds, something her Aunt would wear. She set it on the table and admired it. This must be worth a lot.

She opened the envelope and read the unsigned letter. A secret admirer? How is that possible? Her last date was with Robert from accounting almost ten months ago. She left the restaurant before dessert arrived. He was insisting she go to his house to meet his mother. As badly as that one-time date ended, the letter couldn’t be from him.

 Then Rose sat at the dining table and took a deep breath. Regaining her composure, she read the letter again, then stared out the window. This was a first for her—she’d never received a love letter in her life. The letter dripped with emotion: she was his true love; he was the only one for her; he would care and protect her forever. Ewww. The letter was short—a partial sheet, but creeped Rose out.

Rose reached for the ring and studied it, then grabbed her phone and Googled images of diamonds. Based on the images, she figured the big diamond was at least three carats. Worth a pretty penny. Had to be some mistake.

There was no follow-up about the letter or ring for the next two weeks, so Rose took the ring to a pawn shop across from her office building. Visiting a pawn shop was another first for her. 

The door chimed and a middle-aged man smiled at her. “Good morning, young lady, what can I do for you?” 

“I have this ring I’d like to sell.”

“You work across the street, don’t you?”

Rose stepped back. “Um, yes. Why?”

“I never forget a face, that’s all. I’m Moe.”

“First time in a pawn shop, um Miss…”

“Rose. And yes, first time.”

“Rose, we don’t buy things, we give loans on them. You walk out of here with money, I hold onto the ring, you come back within a month, repay the loan and interest, the ring is yours again. Simple.”

“But I don’t want the ring.”

“Then you leave the ring, take the money, and don’t come back. The ring is mine and I sell it. Like all these under the glass counter. Sometimes things don’t work out with couples.”

“This is legal, right?” Rose asked.

“Rose, I’m licensed and yes, this is legal. Let’s have a look at the ring.”

Rose fumbled with the ring and placed it on the counter.

Moe looked at it, then at Rose. He picked up a loupe and studied the ring.

“Well,” Rose asked.

“It’s a nice piece. Sure you want to pawn it?”

“Yes, I am.”

“You’re a nice lady. I see you walking in and out of work every day, but the best I can do is three thousand.”

“What? Three thousand dollars!”

Moe straightened. “Okay, five, but that’s it. I don’t get much call for this high-end stuff. I’ll have to sell it off site at a considerable cut.”

Rose shivered. “I’ll take the five thousand.”

Rose filled out forms and agreements and walked out with five thousand dollars. From outside, she looked over her shoulder at Moe in the pawn shop and a portend feeling and accompanying tingling sensation up her spine encouraged her to step up her walking pace. 

Rose put the cash in the fire-proof box in her closet and thought about all that money. Late that afternoon, she pulled a one-hundred-dollar bill out and headed to the fanciest restaurant she knew. She was going to order scallops with wine. 

By the next weekend she had all but forgotten about the cash. 

Rose awoke to a loud banging and sat bolt upright in bed. She looked at her phone: the screen showed Saturday 9:04 AM.

The banging repeated. Maybe it’s another nice ring.

She put on her robe and went to the peephole. She saw the same FedEx delivery driver she remembered. “ID to the peephole, please.”

She saw Diego Gonzales’s photo and credentials as before and opened the door.

“Sign here.”

Rose silently signed for the package and shut the door.

She placed the package on the dining table and stared at it. What if it’s another expensive diamond ring. Or gold necklaces? 

Rose spun the mailer in a circle on the table and stared at it. “Fine,” she pulled the opening tab and saw an envelope and a small, padded package. She opened the envelope, read the letter, and put it on the table. The tone was angry and aggressive. How did he know she pawned the ring? Was it Moe sending her these anonymous letters?

She pushed the letter aside and pulled out the padded package. A rubber banded note around it read: To show my commitment to you, this came with the ring.” Rose unwrapped the paper covering of the package.

A severed finger dropped onto the table. Rose screamed.

 It was a gnarled arthritic ring finger which had started to blacken. She stood and stared at the severed digit. She turned away and saw the front door closing, then movement caught her eye. I didn’t lock the front door! 

Rose passed out as Robert from accounting approached her with duct tape and a knife.


NT Franklin has been published in Page and Spine, Fiction on the Web, 101 Words, Friday Flash Fiction, CafeLit, Madswirl, Postcard Shorts, 404 Words, Scarlet Leaf Review, Freedom Fiction, Burrst, Entropy, Alsina Publishing, Fifty-word stories, Dime Show Review, among others.

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